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The Romance Genre Goes Plus-Size At Ellora’s Cave Publishing

Posted by on November 4, 2013

I read literally everything.

From Austen to Cabot, from Vonnegut to Roberts, from Crichton to King.

And I am perfectly shameless about it.

I have even, on occasion, picked up the stray Romance novel to flip through (and maybe penned one of my own). So, when I received a press release about how the people over at Ellora’s Cave Publishing were expanding the bookshelves of their Romance novels to include plus-size heroines, I basically squealed with glee.


An afternoon spent reading is never a waste. Especially when it's awesome body positive prose.

An afternoon spent reading is never a waste. Especially when it’s awesome body positive prose.


Raelene Gorlinsky, the lead publisher at Ellora’s Cave, correctly asserts that women generally picture themselves as some version of the heroines in Romance novels they read. Since 57 percent of women are now buying clothes in a size 16 or larger, it stands to reason that these women would like to read more literature that celebrates their body-type.

Plus-size women deserve to take the lead in literature just as much as they deserve that blessed protagonist spotlight in television and film. Happily, that’s slowly happening more and more – Rebel Wilson has her own sitcom for goodness sake.

Ellora’s Cave is making that happen for Romance novels.

Voluptuous is a contemporary erotic romance from Ellora's Cave. Credit: Ellora's Cave

Voluptuous is a contemporary erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave. Credit: Ellora’s Cave

Gorlinsky and the team at Ellora’s Cave are putting a special focus on plus-size heroines in their upcoming novels.

“As an erotic romance publisher, I’ve found female readers want to identify with the heroine as she finds true love—and great sex—with an incredibly desirable guy,” said Gorlinsky in her press release. “Why do women like stories about full-figured heroines? Gee, could it be because most of us are in reality much larger than size six, let alone size zero? That identification fantasy is ruined if the heroine is too different from the reader and especially if the reader’s own characteristics are disparaged in the process.”

Full Bodied Charmer is another modern era plus-size romance novel. Credit: Ellora's Cave

Full Bodied Charmer is another modern era plus-size romance novel. Credit: Ellora’s Cave

Ellora’s Cave already has a special shelf  devoted to “rubenesque” heroines, but they are planning to give their curvy girl heroines some extra love in the coming months. Gorlinsky and the Ellora Team chose to use the term “rubenesque” to classify their plus-size heroines because of it’s artistic 17th century origins. Painter Peter Paul Rubens often depicted women with large breasts, wide hips, and lush curves in his work, which is where the term comes from.

“This year we decided to draw more attention (and hopefully readers) to our Rubenesque writing by releasing ‘Curve Appeal,’ special stories that go out of their way to present a positive image of plus-sized heroines,” said Gorlinsky. “Our hope is that with strides like these, a full-figured (or at least realistic) heroine will start to become the rule, rather than the exception.”

According to Gorlinsky, none of the stories really make the heroine’s size a major plot point; rather, they depict women who are confident and beautiful. They just present plus-size women in a positive way, where she is judged by who she is rather than what she looks like.

For more stories with plus-size heroines, check out this helpful list of Top 10 Phattest Plus-Size Heroines put together by Kelly Faircloth of “Heroes and Hearbreakers” or check out Meg Cabot’s Heather Wells Mystery Series. Cabot just released the most recent addition to this series (book number five), “The Bride Wore Size 12,” in September.

Do you read romance novels? What types of books and other media would you like more plus-size women to be featured more prominently in? Let me know in the comments!

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